EAGAN — For 52 years, the Minnesota Vikings made Minnesota State University, Mankato their summer training camp home. After a farewell tour last year for the city of Mankato, the Vikings have now cozied up in their new home at the TCO Performance Center in Eagan.
Completed earlier this spring, the Twin Cities Orthopedics Performance Center is the new top destination for Minnesota Vikings fans during training camp. The 277,000-square-foot practice facility and team headquarters includes plenty of space for the Vikings, with four outdoor practice fields, a 6,500-seat outdoor practice stadium (that can be expanded to 10,000 seats) and a fieldhouse with a 98-foot roof, perfect for punter Ryan Quigley to get his reps in on rainy days.
Included in the complex is the 14,000-square-foot Vikings Museum. The museum mixes decades of history, hundreds of Vikings memorabilia and technology to provide an in-depth look at the 58-year history of the team. At the cost of $20, fans should definitely check out the museum if they plan on making the trip to Eagan.
The museum begins with shrines dedicated to each Minnesota Viking that has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Each inductee has their uniform encased in glass with memorabilia decorating each shrine.
Past the inductees, fans walk through the history of the franchise with actual displays from each stadium that has been home to the Vikings. Near the end of the museum, fans can expect a more modern, futuristic display to take over. A 360 theater screen shows off highlight videos and stories from fans that will change daily as more fans come through the museum.
VR headsets are also available for fans to try on. When they do, expect to get a full virtual tour of US Bank Stadium. Also in the area is a wall of headphones where you can listen to every Vikings coach in history.
Adjacent to the museum is the Vikings Locker Room Store where fans can load up on their team gear before the season starts.
For fans visiting training camp, the main stadium was host to fun and games for all ages. With flag football games going, passing and kicking contests in full swing, as well as rows of cornhole boards set up across one endzone, the stadium was a top destination for fans visiting training camp whether they were looking to be competitive or just relax.
With the games and attractions providing something for the kids to do, parents were very pleased with what was provided at training camp.
“It’s great because there are things for everyone here,” a fan down on the stadium field says.
“My kids might not want to watch practice go on for hours but we can come here and still have fun with all of the games going on.”
Up on the concourse, fans filed in to one of four lines for their chance at autographs with their favorite players. On Monday, the tight ends were playing meet-and-greet with those patiently waiting in line. Some fans even planned their whole trip around who would be available for autographs that day.
“We wanted to come today because we knew Kyle Rudolph would be signing autographs,” one fan said with her family. “Our son looks quite a bit like him and it’s neat that he’s able to meet him and get an autograph.”
Behind the stadium were the four turf practice fields that the 90-man roster took to twice a day for the duration of camp. Over 5,000 seats line the practice fields (4,000 general admission and 1,000 reserved seating) and if bleachers aren’t your style, there are plenty of places to relax on the grass near the stands and still get a good look at the team. With an hour-long walk-thru in the morning, followed by a full practice in the afternoon, fans have plenty of time to see their boys in purple and gold in action as they prep for the 2018 campaign.
Overall, fan reaction to the new facility has been mostly positive.
“Everything here just looks absolutely amazing,” one visitor said. “There’s so much to do and see that it makes you want to come back and find something new.”
“It’s a great facility,” another fan said. “Mankato was nice, but this is just a whole ‘nother level. It really sets the bar high for other teams going forward.”
With mostly positive reactions, there was one common theme when it came to criticism.
“It feels like we’re a little more removed from the players here than we were at Mankato,” one lifelong fan said. “I think Mankato felt a little more intimate of an experience for Vikings fans.”
Admission to Minnesota Vikings Training Camp is limited to 5,000 tickets per day. 4,000 of those tickets are general admission and free of charge, while the remaining 1,000 are reserved seating tickets and start at $20 per ticket. Tickets and parking passes must be purchased in advance. More information on tickets can be found on www.vikings.com. Training camp runs through Thursday, Aug. 16.